Living in a share house - Why you should try at least once in your lifetime
Friday, July 6, 2018
I was reluctant but sometimes life surprises you for good.
I have to confess something: the person who is writing this article right now is not the same that came to Japan 15 months ago. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that life could change that much and that greatly - and one of the most game-changing experiences in Japan for me was sharehousing.
During 25 years I was pretty much the home-loving type. Staying at my place all weekend long developing my relationship with Netflix or my PS4 and cuddling my dogs sounded like an unbeatable plan. My place was my sanctuary, my realm. I always managed to rent my own apartments, even when studying and working abroad, because share housing options seemed like a nightmare to me.
But then I heard the Japan calling and there was no turning back.
I did an exhaustive research before giving up on having my own place, though. I analyzed carefully every and each website available. Literally - from Sakura House to Tokyo Share House, including Tokyo Room Finder, Oak House and dozens more. During weeks, my main priority was to find the perfect place: cheap, well connected to public transportation and with no flatmates. It did not take me too long to notice that it was going to be more complicated than expected. And since the day of my departure was approaching slow but steady, I had to take a decision - burning all my savings in an apartment or trying my luck in a sharehouse... I decided to go with the second option and after a year and three months, this is what I’ve learned from my share house experience:
- Free language lessons: You can practice your daily conversation ability at home and for free. You are in Japan now, everything can be a Japanese language lesson! Maybe your flatmates are Japanese or they aren’t fluent in English. Step outside your comfort zone and try to speak in Japanese! Even if you feel you are not learning faster enough, you will soon notice the results!
- Improve your social skills: I used to be so shy, but practicing my social skills at home helped me a lot. Now I am the most extroverted person you could imagine.
- Building team spirit: It was my first time in a share house and, even if most part of the rules were common sense, I started to think more about the group welfare and less of my own benefit. Small gestures like cleaning all the dishes (no matter if you used only a cup for your morning coffee) can mean a lot to your mates. You know, you scratch my back and I will scratch yours.
- First-hand useful info: How can I get a Japanese phone number? How does the washing machine work? What does the lady that lives on the 2nd floor whispers everytime you both meet in the entrance? They are your best source of information - use it and share yours!
- Loneliness? What loneliness?: There is always someone in the share house. Always. It can sound harsh, but believe me - you are going to be grateful for it if you feel homesick .
- They will be there for you: No matter what. If you lose your keys and cannot enter your room, they will give you a pajama, a hug and will let you sleep in their room (true story, I will never be grateful enough for that). If you forgot to go to the supermarket and have nothing for dinner, your mates will probably share theirs or prepare a little bit more for you. You will wake up in your birthday in a house full of balloons. They will get your mail when you are out of home, so you don’t have to go to the post office. And if they leave Japan, you will receive heartwarming letters and postcards from all over the world.
Living in Tokyo taught me so many things but if I had to choose only one, I would say that the most important thing I learned here is that home is not a place - people is what makes a place home. It will happen that you are just chilling with them in the living room and will suddenly understand the meaning of ただいま (tadaima, I’m home).
If you are looking to start a new adventure in Japan, register on IZANAU and create your own home in the country.
About the Author
Half writer, half reader. Tokyo based and deeply in love with - you can easily find me meandering around Shibuya or Shin-Okubo. Intern in Communication and Marketing by day, video game translator and proofreader by night.